Through this blog I have tried to address issues which have impacted my life both as an amputee and as a mother. I have learned that many of my emotions and experiences are shared by others. This being said, I feel that there is a commonality among all amputees which is kept silent. I want to bring light to the issue. We should not hide or be ashamed of our feelings!
I have received emails and phone calls from many readers of this blog about how to deal with the reoccurring anger about the limb loss. From the victim of an accident to the injured soldier to the individual living with diabetes, every amputee experiences anger and rage. For whatever reason, we keep this feeling in the shadows, uncomfortable discussing this most personal emotion with our closest friends and fellow "limb loss champions." (I just coined that term, but I like it.)
I know that I have been shy about expressing my rage towards the individual who caused my injury. It was only after I started thinking about this topic that I realized my reasons: I did not want to be perceived as an ill-adjusted, angry person. I feared that, by merely acknowledging that I still felt angry, somehow all of the self-reflection and work I did to adjust to my loss would be devalued. I felt that anger equated weakness. I was wrong.
In addition to wanting to avoid being viewed as weak, I was trying to spare my loved ones. Dealing with an amputation is a stressful adjustment for everybody, not just the amputee. Verbalizing feelings of anger often makes others feel uncomfortable and helpless. I suppose that I have kept my anger under wraps in an attempt to make others more at ease around me.
I am making a full confession. I am still angry. No, it doesn't consume my daily thoughts. I am still a strong and well-adjusted woman, but it has been twelve years, and I continue to feel a twinge of rage when I think of what was taken from me.
My life plan did not include limb loss. I never envisioned that I would be living with a disability, especially at such a relatively young age. I did nothing wrong, and yet I am dealing with the results because of the lapse of judgment by somebody else.
I have tried ignoring the anger but learned that suppressing an emotion is never a healthy option. Feelings have a way of showing themselves regardless of our efforts to ignore them. Scott has been the unwitting recipient of more than his share of misplaced anger! It wasn't fair to him, and it certainly wasn't healthy for me.
Giving my anger a voice has helped me deal with the strong emotion. I've discovered that true strength results from being honest with yourself and with others. Talking about anger is not a sign of weakness, but it is a sign of personal acceptance and adjustment.
I have never had the opportunity to confront the individual who caused my injury. I doubt that I could ever find the words to fully relate the pain and grief that his mistake caused. This journey is only understood by those who have experienced the loss first hand. It is not something that I can be verbalize.
Several years ago, in an attempt to put the anger to rest, I wrote a letter to the individual who injured me. I expressed all of the pain, grief and anguish that I could muster. It was a cathartic experience, and I believe it helped me heal.
I have seen what can happen to an individual when they become obsessed with the "what ifs" and the "whys" in life. What if I hadn't gone to the conference that March day? What if I had been talking with another vendor? What if the monitor had been strapped down? Why did this have to happen to me? Anger, although natural, can also become a destructive force if it is not kept in check.
In an attempt to make sense of this accident, I started reversing my train of questions. If my foot were never injured, I never would have moved to Virginia. I never would have met Scott, and Robby wouldn't be in my life. I honestly cannot imagine a life without my family. My injury set my life on a path that ultimately led me to them.
If I hadn't lost my leg, I would never have discovered my passion for writing. I am still discovering where that path leads, but the journey is exciting. I have met so many wonderful people because of our common experiences.
Perhaps the best way to deal with the anger and the loss is to build a fulfilling life in spite of the amputation. Yes, I still feel anger when I reflect upon my accident. I make a conscious decision to live in the present, and to dream for the future instead of lamenting the past. I don't mean to simplify this choice or to insinuate that I don't still grieve. Part of me will always miss my leg, and my previous life.
It is my hope that other amputees will no longer be shy about opening up about their pain with their loved ones. It is something which is felt by everybody in this community as we all experience anger from time to time. Let's just call it out, talk about it when necessary, and move forward. It is good to acknowledge the rage.